Panthers invade Moss Point

Published 6:00 am Thursday, November 12, 2009

Moss Point is synonymous with outstanding football on theMississippi Gulf Coast. Brookhaven’s Panthers receive anintroduction to the talented Tigers when they invade Moss PointFriday night for the opening round of the Class 5A state playoffs.Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Moss Point (9-2, 7-0) is fresh from beating Gautier 27-0 for theRegion 4-5A championship. The Tigers have much higher goals and itall begins with tomorrow night’s opening round test.

Coach Tucker Peavey’s Panthers (5-5, 3-4) are regrouping after adisappointing, last-second, 16-13 home field loss to the ForestHill Patriots. The defeat ended Ole Brook’s 2-game victory streakbut the Panthers managed to maintain No. 4 seeding in Region3-5A.

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Obviously, Peavey and his staff have been impressed by MossPoint on film. “Moss Point is a very good team. They are fasteverywhere. Their offensive linemen are good-size guys.”

Peavey said Moss Point quarterback Joseph Kirkland (6-1, 161,soph.) “is a good athlete. He can run and throw.”

The main mover in Moss Point’s attack is shifty tailback ByronJames (5-9, 150, jr.). James wears jersey No. 42. He rushed for 142yards and 2 touchdowns in the win over Gautier.

“Their tailback (James) is really quick,” said Peavey. “They areprimarily a running team.”

The Tigers are coached by Lewis Sims. There are 5 autographedstate championship footballs in his fieldhouse office.

Recognized for their defense, the Tigers are led by 2exceptional defensive ends. They are Keith Barkely (6-1, 215, sr.)and Gabe King (6-0, 220, sr.).

Peavey said, “Number 36 (Barkley) and No. 82 (King) are veryathletic players. They are good enough to do whatever they want toon defense. They are as good a team as we’ve seen.”

Region 3-5A is considered the SEC of Class 5A football. No.1-ranked West Jones (10-0), No. 2 seed Picayune and No. 3 seedWayne Country are among the best teams in the state.

Stopping the Moss Point rushing attack will be a major challengefor the Panther defense. Peavey predicted, “We must try to containMoss Point’s speed. If you let them run, you’ve got a bigproblem.”

Peavey said senior defensive lineman Jawaun Merchant is doubtfulfor the game due to an ankle injury suffered 2 weeks ago in therain-soaked, muddy McComb game, a playoff-clinching 28-12victory.

Starting Lineups

Brook’s starting defensive line features Joseph Owens, MalcolmStewart, Cordai Henderson, and Devis Cooper.

Austin Barnett and Jacoby Cooper start at inside linebacker.Shamonte Brooks and Jeff Newton are the outside linebackers.

Greg Sims and Isaiah Williams are at cornerback and Chris Sealsis at free safety. Dewey Stailey will handle the punting and theplacekicking Friday night.

Against Forest Hill, Newton led the Panthers with 7 tackles.Owens had 6 solo tackles and 2 assists, plus a quarterback sack.Henderson and Brooks followed with 5 solo stops and 1 sackapiece.

Starting on offense in the backfield for BHS are Duwone Harrisat quarterback and Semmie Smith at running back. E.J. Henderson andTrent Powell are at wide receiver. Nick Peavey and TravoriusShowers are at tight end. Ross Hill is at flanker.

In the offensive line, Derrick Henderson is at left tackle,Tameas Hooker at left guard, Mitch Case at center, Sam Ballard atright guard and Stone Underwood at right tackle.

Smith was Brook’s leading rusher against Forest Hill with 18carries for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Panther Paws: Brookhaven hasn’t played Moss Point on thegridiron since 1980 when Coach Les Bumgarner’s Panthers lost theirSept. 5 season-opener 35-12 on King Field. In 1972, Coach DougSullivan’s Panthers lost to Moss Point in the Turkey Bowl that wasplayed at Ocean Springs.